The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers to scramble to set up the technology required to allow employees to work from home. If you and your team are used to working in the same space, the adjustment requires more than technology.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to increase your sense of connection and your ability to work as a team. Here are some suggestions.
Use Online Meeting Tools
Online meeting software Zoom has seen a huge increase in users since governors began issuing stay-at-home orders. Zoom software allows multiple users to connect to a meeting, and they have a free option that you can use if you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) pay for a service.
Zoom’s free plan includes:
- Unlimited one-to-one meetings
- Group meetings up to 100 participants with a time limit of 40 minutes
- Online support
- Active speaker view
If you upgrade to their Pro plan, which costs $14.99 per month, the maximum meeting length goes up to 24 hours and you’ll get some useful admin features that will allow you to change the settings for your Zoom meetings. The company has also created a resource page for users during the pandemic, which you can find here.
You may also want to use some of the following tools:
- Google Docs (ideal for sharing document)
- Google Hangouts (may be used for meetings)
- Facebook and Facebook Live (you can create a private group for your employees and go live with video if you choose)
- Project management software such as Slack or Asana
This is just a sampling of what’s available. If you’re looking for something specific, use Google or connect with other small business owners to ask what they’re using.
Set Up a New Routine
One of the most important things you can do for your staff is to create a new “normal” so that they know what to expect every day. Some of your employees may need guidance on how to work from home, and some may need more structure than they normally do.
Here are some suggestions for setting up your new work routine.
- Have a daily check-in, preferably early in the day, where you get together on a video conference or conference call and talk about the day.
- Be clear in your expectations and create written workflows when necessary.
- Use Google Docs to create a schedule and post assignments. (If you already use project management software such as Asana or Slack, you can use that instead.)
- Encourage your staff to talk one-on-one and brainstorm ideas as needed.
- Set up clear milestones and goals and make sure everyone understands them.
Communication has never been more important than it is now, and it’s your job as a business owner to take full advantage of the tools available to you to keep the lines of communication open.
Connection and compassion go hand in hand. If you want your employees to feel connected to one another and to you, it’s essential to let them know that you understand and respect their feelings – and to give them room to feel them.
- Be understanding that employees are adjusting to working from home and may have challenges that they need to work around to be productive. Examples include spouses who are also working from home, kids who are now engaged in distance learning, and demanding pets who want their owners’ attention. We’re all going to need to be patient with each other to be productive.
- Likewise, be patient and compassionate with your employees’ fears and concerns. This is a scary time and there’s no point in pretending it isn’t. We don’t know what the future will bring. Your staff may be emotional and have a hard time focusing. It’s your job as a leader to meet them where they are and give them what they need to do their jobs.
- Finally, find ways to make it fun. You may decide to have a virtual happy hour with your employees once a week or enjoy lunch together in a Zoom meeting. Not everything needs to be serious and your employees and you will benefit if you find moments of lightness in the workday.
There are a lot of uncertainties in our lives now, but we can still find ways to feel connected to one another. Ultimately, creating a sense of connection will help make your employees more productive as they adjust to the new normal.
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